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Which table did you sit at in the cafeteria?

Illustration for article titled Which table did you sit at in the cafeteria?

One of the worst parts of school for me was lunchtime. I was a nice enough person, but I wasn't (and still amn't) entirely comfortable with other people in social situations. My school was a fairly warm and open place from my perspective. There wasn't too much bullying of outsiders or weirdos. I think that's sometimes a benefit of being in a small, liberal, sort-of-diverse, hippy dippy California town. But still, figuring out what to do at lunch when I started high school was a problem for me. The scene in Mean Girls where Janis explains the tribes of the cafeteria to Cady rang very true to me.

Part of my problem was that I had moved around a lot during my middle school years, spending 6th, 7th and 8th grade at three different schools in two different states. In 7th grade, my best friends had lunch a different period, so I spent most of my lunches in the library (playing Oregon Trail, reading historical novels set in Elizabethan times, trying to teach myself Greek). In 8th grade I moved from Oregon back to the So. California district which I had attended from K-3rd grade (on my first day back, this kid name Daniel asked me if I was the one who used to eat paste), but all my old friends had found new cliques and I was afraid, so I ate with a girl who had just transferred from a Waldorf school, and her boyfriend, a red-haired, acne-prone ballet dancer, and an assortment of his oddball friends. The girl ended up not going to the town high school when we moved on in 9th grade, so I had to find a new set of lunch companions.

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Another benefit of Southern California schools is that you get to eat outside on the lawn most of the time. The first day, I scanned the grass and found a group of freshman girls who I kind of knew and they let me in their circle, but I didn't know who they were gossiping about or how to make myself a part of conversation. I sat quietly with them for the first week or so, when my best frenemy, who had been the only other 8th grader besides me to join the high school marching band the year before, started dating the drum major and invited me to join her for lunches in the band room. And so I found my home, with the (mostly asexual) band geeks, who, as it happened, were also mostly Asian nerds. I still spent a quite a few noontimes in a practivce room reading everything in my English textbooks, but I didn't feel like I had to. These were my people, and I'm still friends with quite a few of them.

Where did you spend your lunchtimes when you were in school?

[top image via Broid Rage]

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